Thursday Briefing

Supporters of TikTok watching a broadcast of the House vote.Credit…Kent Nishimura for The New York Times

U.S. House moved a TikTok bill forward

The House passed a bill that would force ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to sell the popular video app or have it banned in the U.S. The legislation escalated a showdown between Beijing and Washington over control of a wide range of technologies that could affect national security, free speech and the social media industry.

The measure came despite TikTok’s efforts to mobilize its 170 million U.S. users against the bill.

Republican leaders fast-tracked the bill through the House, and it passed on a lopsided vote of 352 to 65, reflecting widespread backing for legislation that would take direct aim at China in an election year. The bill received broad bipartisan support, despite Donald Trump’s recent criticism of the ban.

The bill faces a difficult road to passage in the Senate, though President Biden has said he would sign it. But it is likely to face legal challenges, and finding a buyer for just the U.S. portion of TikTok, which could cost more than $50 billion, would be difficult without violating antitrust laws. It would also require Chinese approval.

Analysis: In the four years since President Trump tried to ban TikTok, it has become clear that the security threat posed by the app has far less to do with who owns it than it does with who writes TikTok’s code and algorithms.

Dropping supplies into the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday.Credit…Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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